The next General Election due before June next year looks to be providing one of the most uninspiring choices as to who should be Prime Minister. In the red corner, we have a New Labour PM who has so far demonstrated that he does not follow up his words with his deeds, witness Browns dithering over the crucial regulation needed over our financial services and financial industry. Brown is the very epitome of all talk and no trousers.
Not that the Conservatives should be so smug. In the blue corner, Cameron has so far shown himself to be the very worst kind of band-wagon chasing politician, spouting forth on anything, and even inventing new swear words (twit????). Anything to deflect from the distinct lack of policies. So who do you chose, the devil you know… or the devil you don’t.
However, there is a party who, if they were as brave as they were a couple of weeks ago in releasing the “convicted” Lockerbie Bomber, could save us all from boring he said she said campaigning. The SNP have said that they will introduce their Independence Referendum Bill in the next year, but if we are being honest, the SNP won’t get their bill through Holyrood, parliamentary arithmetic will see to that. However the SNP should turn their attention to practically the next best thing, turning the next General Election into a de-facto referendum on the Union.
I think (and I might be wrong here) that the mechanism for this is that if the majority of Scottish MP’s elected are SNP MP’s then the mechanism is apparently there for independence discussions to begin.
If the SNP do this, they will be able to put forward the arguments for Independence, and importantly how they think they can make an independent Scotland work. It is this last part that the SNP will have to work on, as this I suspect is the main sticking point for many people who see the case for independence as not proven. For many people, the “union dividend” is a huge part of their lives, so the figures will need to be cast iron and independently verified, not that this will stop attacks from the other parties. An alliance with other pro independence parties will also be a must for the SNP if they are to do this.
A pan-independence campaign will also put the two tone conservative parties on the back foot, with Cameron and Brown being forced to defend the Union, and themselves. I think that a re-write of several campaign itineraries would ensue, and the Unionists would be caught off guard. How they do this should be interesting as both parties have squandered the Oil Dividend on tax cuts for the rich and the creation of the lazy poor class. Nah, we’ll probably get the usual scare tactics. What will be interesting will be any interjections from the former Glasgow councillor Vince Cable, still the most respected MP in Westminster.
Of course, this could all backfire on the SNP. New Labour and the Tories could wheel out the dirty tricks book. After all statistics don’t lie, they just tell you the answer you want. Either way, we have reached a point where we have to ask ourselves where we want to go from here, especially with two poor candidates for Prime Minister and two (I would imagine) dull manifesto’s. General Elections used to be the natural point for this, but in post devolutionary times General Elections have had the feeling of being slightly irrelevant. The key policy decisions for most Scottish people now come at Holyrood election-time. With the two contenders for Prime Minister equally uninspiring, it’s time… for the union to defend itself.